Singapore factory output falls 3.4% in September, snapping 10 months of growth

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s factory output dropped in September, snapping 10 consecutive months of growth, on the back of weaker biomedical production.

Manufacturing output fell 3.4 per cent last month from a year ago, compared with a revised 11 per cent increase in August, according to data released by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday (Oct 26).

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 9.4 per cent in September.

The key electronics sector saw output expand by 4.9 per cent, slowing from the 15.4 per cent growth in the August. Apart from the computer peripherals and data storage segment, all segments recorded output growth.

The electronics cluster grew 17.7 per cent from January to September compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the volatile biomedical manufacturing sector saw its output fall 35.9 per cent, after a 1.7 per cent drop the previous month.

While the medical technology segment rose 2.4 per cent amid sustained export demand for medical devices, the pharmaceuticals output sank 46.2 per cent due to a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients being produced compared with a year ago.

On a year-to-date basis, the biomedical manufacturing cluster still eked out growth of 1.4 per cent.

General manufacturing output also fell, by 2.7 per cent. The miscellaneous industries segment grew 21 per cent from a low base last year, when demand for construction-related materials was adversely affected by Covid-19.

Conversely, the printing segment dropped 14.5 per cent while the food, beverage and tobacco segment fell 16 per cent, with lower production of milk products due to plant maintenance shutdowns and weaker export demand.

Overall, general manufacturing output grew 6.8 per cent in the first nine months of 2021. compared with the same period last year.

All other sectors posted year-on-year growth in September.

The transport engineering cluster saw expanded output of 12.9 per cent, with all segments recording growth.

The aerospace engineering segment rose 21.7 per cent, while the marine and offshore segment increased output by 9.9 per cent.

EDB said the levels of activity in the aerospace firms and shipyards had increased compared with last year, when the volume of work was adversely affected by international travel restrictions and the weak global oil and gas market amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cumulatively, the transport engineering cluster grew 5.6 per cent in the period lasting from January to September compared with the same period last year.

Precision engineering output also grew, by 30.2 per cent, in September. The cluster’s growth was largely attributed to the machinery and systems segment, which expanded 38.4 per cent with higher output of semiconductor and industrial process equipment.

The precision modules and components segment rose 13.5 per cent, with increased production of optical products, plastic and metal precision components as well as dies, moulds, tools, jigs and fixtures.

Overall, the precision engineering cluster grew 21 per cent in the first nine months of 2021.

Chemicals output increased by 12.4 per cent in September, with all segments recording output growth except the specialties segment.

The petroleum segment recorded an output growth of 26.1 per cent while the chemicals segment grew by 18.6 per cent from the low production base a year ago due to plant maintenance shutdowns and weaker export demand amid the pandemic.

The other chemicals segment increased by 9.9 per cent with higher production of fragrances. Conversely, the specialties segment slid 1.5 per cent.

The chemicals cluster grew 9.6 per cent year on year from January to September this year.

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